Okay, here's what happened: Early this cloudy morning I was scanning the jetties from Stewart Park with my window-mounted scope from the parked taxi, which is considerably farther than scoping from the path around the swan pond. There were 6 BONAPARTE'S GULLS, but no terns for me. Then I saw a cloud of swallows (ID by behavior), generally white below, but hard to tell much else due to poor light, distance, heat shimmer, and the difficulty of following them in a scope, especially using the either jerky or wobbly window mount. I followed them as they settled, facing 3/4 away from me, on wires along the white lighthouse jetty, and then I could make out many TREE SWALLOWS with white throat-breast-belly and bluish-dark upper parts. It was, frankly, a lousy look, and I wasn't able to discern any swallows which were brown above. I found several swallows which lacked the bright white undersides, and I concentrated on them. Several showed distinctly light areas on the lower back and chestnut on the face/throat. I had to leave on a call, and I texted that I'd seen CLIFF SWALLOW.
After that call I was able to return to Stewart Park, and the light was better. Then I saw that several BARN SWALLOWS on those wires (bellies varying from peach to gray) had their backs fluffed up exposing whitish patches near the rump, and I suspected I may have misidentified them as Cliff Swallows, so I sent the retraction. However, I also noted that two of the birds whose tails I did not see to be long and forked showed the combination of dark upper parts, pale underparts, chestnut on face, light patch on rump, and gray band around the neck, which indicates CLIFF SWALLOW, but I had not remembered that field mark with certainty until checking my guide at home this evening.
So, I am now asserting that I did see 2 CLIFF SWALLOWS there this morning. Sorry about my clumsiness in observing, figuring it out, and reporting. This is yet another instance of my learning or refreshing my ID skills through testing and finding that I haven't studied the guide adequately beforehand (remember the Little/Franklin's Gull and the Piping/Semipalmated Plover?). It's this sort of embarrassing situation which makes me believe I will not likely forget this particular ID, although the pattern of me occasionally screwing up seems well-established. Is this episode, as Meena says, like science? I hope not. Those were text messages to give other birders a heads-up, not peer-reviewed publications of some new insight, and even though I try to observe and explain carefully I cannot and do not claim to be a scientist.
On Apr 15, 2013, at 08:04 AM, 6072292...@vtext.com wrote:
Retraction: possible odd Barn Swallow.
On Apr 15, 2013, at 07:27 AM, 6072292...@vtext.com wrote:
CLIFF SWALLOW on wire to white lighthouse.
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